UPDATED with Smollett comments, more details: Jussie Smollett’s lawyers announced today that all criminal charges have been dropped and his record expunged. However, the Illinois law enforcement aren’t letting the Empire actor off totally free.
“Today all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement provided to media outlets. “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” said state attorney Kim Foxx’s office in a statement of its own.
Coming after a suddenly called court hearing this morning in Chicago, Smollett has received what is known as a “deferred prosecution deal” from the state. Regardless, we may never know the details of the deal, as all the records have been sealed.
It is unclear what community service the actor performed and why he is letting the state keep his $10,000 that was posted on February 21.
The Empire actor was arrested on multiple felony charges last month for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself in the early morning of January 29. Smollett has strongly denied the accusations. He also was accused of sending a threatening letter to himself, which was received at Cinespace Studios a week before the alleged attack.
Pulled into his own legal troubles yesterday, Smollett’s other lawyer and ex-CNN contributor Mark Geragos was quick to put out his own individual statement this morning:
Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dismissed by the Prosecution. Jussie’s record has been wiped clean. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify. He was a victim and was victimized again in a rush to judgment. Apologies accepted
— Mark Geragos (@markgeragos) March 26, 2019
“Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character have been unjustly smeared” declared the Smollett family in remarks of their own this morning.
“Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of,” the actor’s siblings and parents stated. “He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. This morning the truth has prevailed, and he has been vindicated.”
“While many were quick to rush to judgment before hearing the actual proof, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light,” the family added, after weeks of standing by Smollett’s side in his repeated court appearances. “We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank God for our village and standing by us during this trying time.”
“All questions regarding Jussie Smollett need to be directed to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office,” a spokesperson for the Chicago Police informed Deadline. At the same time, a law enforcement source says officials are “furious” with Foxx’s office over the deal to drop the Smollett charges. The CPD’s union has been demanding a federal probe into how Foxx’s team handled the Smollett case, a matter which the State Attorney recused herself from due to connections to the actor’s family.
Smollett, with his attorneys spoke briefly to reporters following the court hearing. “First of all I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me and who have showed me so much love. No one will ever know how much that has meant to me and I will be forever grateful. I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of,” Smollett said.
After Smollett was arrested in late February, Chicago prosecutors read out in court a lengthy series of text messages between Smollett and brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo that painted a picture of a pre-planned attack. Far from the vile assault Smollett first described in late January, the texts detailed preparing money to buy supplies, buying drugs, setting up meetings and ensuring that MAGA hats and chants were part of the assault.
Now, while state charges have been dropped, Smollett isn’t out of the probing spotlight yet. A federal investigation of the apparently threatening letter sent to Smollett will continue because it’s a different jurisdiction and involves the U.S. mail.
The actor who plays the openly gay Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox series was written out of the last two episodes of Empire‘s current fifth season following his arrest and subsequent charges.
Empire broadcaster Fox and studio 20th Century Fox TV told Deadline they have no comment on today’s developments. However, as Lee Daniels decried the situation just last week after first offering strong support for the actor in late January, the writers on Empire were not silent at all:
— Empire Writers (@EmpireWriters) March 26, 2019